Timbaland is a producer, rapper, songwriter, and now, an author. A four-time Grammy winner, Timbaland has worked with artists including Rihanna, Nas, Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Nelly Furtado, Drake, Missy Elliot, Pharrell Williams, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Madonna, and Mariah Carey. At a recent visit to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, he launched his memoir The Emperor of Sound. Today we’re proud to present this podcast conversation with Timbaland discussing Mantronix, artistic reinvention, and kids.
Timbaland spoke of his appreciation for producers like Pete Rock. But even before Rock, Timbland recalled discovering Mantronix, one of his early influences:
“Mantronix to me was the first. He had this song called ‘King of Beats’ and that song, I was like, ‘How did he do this?’ because it’s like what computers do now, he kind of was starting the element back then. I didn’t know how he did. I thought it was unique how he’d take Peter Piper beat and slow it down and do certain things and trick it out a little bit. I’m like, ‘This dude is ill.'”
One of the most prolific artists and producers making music today, Timbaland views evolution as the key to longterm success. He subscribes to a four-year artistic cycle:
“I think every major career has like a four-year term, just like the presidency. You know, the president can be president and if you make another term it’s eight years. That’s it. So, you beat all the odds. It’s the same thing in music. It’s like you have to constantly reinvent, and as you reinvent you have to reinvent everything: your finances, everything about you. You’ve got to think smart, and sometimes after a while, you don’t need to go back to being down eighty-thousand chains.”
Just as Timbaland believes in the need for personal reinvention, he also believes in a creative reinvigoration of education. He hopes to see more creativity in the classroom:
“People need to pay attention to the kids around us. I feel like people get to thirty-five, thirty-six, they kind of get complacent, and I feel like our kids are the future. In school they need to come up with something more creative for our children instead of letting the outside create stuff for our children… That’s my next calling: to do music and to teach at the same time.”
Listen to Dr. Jelani Cobb and Timbaland below (both pictured above):